Briercrest food services make top grade

Julie Cole | Nov 20, 2012
Charene Currie (right) with her assistant Charla Manley. (Photo by Viktor Karklins) Charene Currie (right) with her assistant Charla Manley. (Photo by Viktor Karklins)Charene Currie (right) with her assistant Charla Manley. (Photo by Viktor Karklins)

The food services team at Briercrest College and Seminary has made the grade – the highest grade, in fact.

Last week Food Services Director, Charene Currie and her team were greeted with an unannounced food safety audit from NSF, the public health and safety company contracted by Sodexo, the company which manages Briercrest’s food service department. 

The end result was worth the temporary stress.  The team was given a superior gold rating for all three food service areas on campus – the dining hall, the Pilgrim Inn, and the coffee shop.

“We have typically done very well in these audits, but this year’s results are as high as we’ve ever had,” Merrill Dyck, Briercrest VP of Finance and Operations said. “These are extremely rigorous audits and are intended to ensure that the highest levels of food safety are being observed.”

“I spent six hours with him,” Currie said explaining the thorough process. “They introduce themselves when they come in the building. Right at that point in time they start their audit. That goes from us asking them for ID when they walk in to ensuring they put a hair net on, to them walking through and assuring that our products and safety and health are up to standard and where they should be.”

Although this is Currie’s first year with Sodexo, she has spent several years in hotel management in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

“Even with hotels you have your audits that come through,” she said. “I worked with full service hotels so we also dealt with restaurants.”

Working at a school instead of a hotel chain, Currie is quick to answer what the favourite part of her current job is.

“The students – absolutely,” she said. “Honestly, I would have to say that the students keep me young. It’s watching them, enjoying the conversations with them. They are so full of energy and they have such a free spirit and they’re so positive.”

Currie tries to listen to what students want in the area of food services. She has a meeting once a month with a food committee made up of student representatives from each of the dorms.

“They bring forth ideas,” she said. “We can’t go with all their ideas – we have guidelines we have to follow.  A lot of them, though, are things that we can do.”

The food services director can answer instantly what meals are the most popular with students.

“Tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup,” she said. “The students really like the comfort food. They love the Caesar salad bar. It started last year. They can add their own toppings to a Caesar salad.”

When Currie and her team succeed at pleasing the students, their positive feedback delights her.

“When they walk up and compliment us, we know it’s sincere,” she said. “They’re not doing it because they’re told, ‘You have to say thank you.’ They’re doing it because they truly mean it.”